Actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried has died after a "long illness," his family said on Tuesday. He was 67.
"We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness," a statement from his family said. "In addition to being the most iconic voice in comedy, Gilbert was a wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to his two young children. Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honor."
Gottfried was known for his outrageous voice acting and fearlessly crude humor, which earned him the reputation as a comedian's comedian. He voiced the parrot Iago in Aladdin and was blacklisted from the Emmys after joking about masturbation in his monologue at the 1991 awards show.
Gottfried also voiced the duck mascot of the insurance company Aflac from 2000 until 2011, when he was fired after making a series of jokes on Twitter about the deadly tsunami in Japan, where Aflac did most of its business.
He also notoriously joked about 9/11 just three weeks after the attacks, at a Hugh Hefner roast in New York City. Upon realizing that he had lost the crowd, Gottfried then gave his take on the infamous joke known as "the Aristocrats," which won the audience back and was later turned into a documentary.
"I love to go where it’s a dark area,” he told the New York Times in 2013. “You never know what people will choose to be offended by.”
Gottfried often directed his humor at himself, too. In an interview with Vulture in 2019, he said a popular comedy club in New York City called the Improv would put him onstage "to clear the audience out at the end of the night." He also said his anxiety about performing in front of a crowd had grown worse over the years.
Gottfried appeared in a number of TV shows, including Hollywood Squares, Celebrity Paranormal Project, and Celebrity Wife Swap, in which his wife Dara Gottfried swapped places with Alan Thicke's wife, Tanya Callau.
"I ... thought it was a sick joke and I was waiting for the punch line and then it didn't come," he said. "I still feel right now like I'm waiting for the punch line to happen, that it was all a big joke, it was all a hoax."
Gottfried is survived by his wife — whom he met at a Grammys party — and his two children.
The comedian's death was first announced by actor Jason Alexander on Twitter.
Other comedians and actors also shared their memories of Gottfried.